Early in the second half, the Guilderland football team had a 12-0 lead on Columbia.
Then, Christopher Smith went to work.
Smith rushed for 285 yards and three touch-downs to lead the Blue Devils (7-1) to a 40-19 vic-tory over the Dutchmen in last Friday’s Section II Class AA quarterfinal game in East Greenbush.
“That’s a good power running football team we faced tonight,” said Guil-derland coach Dan Penna. “We knew it was going to be difficult.”
Things looked good for the Dutchmen (4-4) after they scored two early touchdowns. The first came on Tony Stanish’s 12-yard scoring run, and the second came on Tim O’Connor’s 26-yard sprint.
Smith changed the momentum with one play, though. The junior found a hole on the sideline and took off on a 66-yard touchdown run to bring Columbia to life.
“We were waiting for a big play, and Chris Smith was fotunate enough to find a hole and break off a big run,” said Columbia coach Craig Cavotta.
Smith wasn’t done, yet. He led the Blue Devils on another second quarter drive that he capped with a 1-yard touchdown run to give Columbia a 13-12 lead. Smith’s third touchdown came on a 26-yard run to cap a 94-yard Columbia scoring drive that consumed more than seven minutes of the third quarter.
“It comes down to controlling the line of scrimmage,” said Penna. “We knew we needed to slow down their running game, and we didn’t do that well.”
Columbia’s lead grew to 26-12 before Guilderland made a bid to get back in the game. Stephen Polsi-nelli capped a Dutchmen drive with a 6-yard touch-down run that cut the de-ficit to seven points with more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Columbia sealed Guil-derland’s fate with a pair of late touchdowns. Jacob Faas caught a 25-yard scoring pass from John Stanley, and Patrick Keegan added a 2-yard touchdown run.